Catherine Jinks (1963-) Biography
Personal, Addresses, Career, Honors Awards, Writings, Sidelights
Born 1963, in Brisbane, Queensland, Australia; Education: University of Sydney, B.A. (medieval history; with honors), 1986. Politics: "Left."
Agent— Margaret Connolly, 16 Winton St., Warrawee, Sydney, NSW 2074, Australia.
Author and illustrator. Westpac Banking Corp., Sydney, Australia, journalist, 1986-93; full-time writer. Lecturer, workshop presenter, and writer-in-residence at Australian schools.
Australian Children's Book of the Year Award shortlist, Children's Book Council of Australia (CBC), 1993, for Pagan's Crusade, 1997, for Pagan's Scribe, and 2001 for You'll Wake the Baby!; Victoria Premier's Award shortlist, 1993, for Pagan's Crusade; Adelaide Festival Award shortlist, 1996, for Pagan's Vows; Australian Children's Book of the Year Award in older readers category, 1996, for Pagan's Vows, and 1998, for Eye to Eye; Fantasy, Sci-Fi, Horror award in young-adult division, 1997, and CROW Award shortlist, 1998, both for Eye to Eye; New South Wales State Literary Award shortlist, 1999, for Eye to Eye, and 2000, for The Stinking Great Lie; Family Award for Children's Book in picture-book category, 2001, and Young Australian Best
Book Award shortlist, and Kids Own Australian Literature Award shortlist, both 2002, all for You'll Wake the Baby!; Aurealis Award for fantasy shortlist, and CBC notable book designation, both for Eglantine.
This Way Out, Omnibus (Sydney, New South Wales, Australia), 1991.
Pagan's Crusade, Oxford University Press (Melbourne, Australia), 1992, Candlewick Press (Cambridge, MA), 2003.
The Future Trap, Omnibus (Sydney, New South Wales, Australia), 1993, new edition, Puffin (Ringwood, Victoria, Australia), 1999.
Pagan in Exile, Omnibus (Sydney, New South Wales, Australia), 1994, Candlewick Press (Cambridge, MA), 2004.
Witch Bank, Puffin (Ringwood, Victoria, Australia), 1995.
Pagan's Vows, Omnibus (Sydney, New South Wales, Australia), 1995, Candlewick Press (Cambridge, MA), 2004.
Pagan's Scribe, Omnibus (Sydney, New South Wales, Australia), 1996.
An Evening with the Messiah (adult novel), Penguin (Camberwell, Victoria, Australia), 1996.
Eye to Eye, Puffin (Ringwood, Victoria, Australia), 1997.
Little White Secrets (adult novel), Penguin (Ringwood, Victoria, Australia), 1997.
(And illustrator) The Bone Quest Saga, Volume I: The Secret of Hermitage Isle (comic book), ABC Books (Sydney, New South Wales, Australia), 1997.
Piggy in the Middle, Penguin (Ringwood, Victoria, Australia), 1998.
(And illustrator) The Horrible Holiday, Puffin (Ringwood, Victoria, Australia), 1998.
The Inquisitor, Pan Macmillan (Sydney, New South Wales, Australia), 1999, St. Martin's Minotaur (New York, NY), 2002.
The Stinking Great Lie, Puffin (Ringwood, Victoria, Australia), 1999.
The Notary (adult mystery), Pan Macmillan (Sydney, New South Wales, Australia), 2000.
You'll Wake the Baby! (picture book), illustrated by Andrew Mclean, Viking (Ringwood, Victoria, Australia), 2000.
What's Hector McKerrow Doing These Days?, Pan Macmillan (Sydney, New South Wales, Australia), 2000.
Bella Vista (adult story collection), Putnam (New York, NY), 2001.
The Rapture, Pan Macmillan (Sydney, New South Wales, Australia), 2001.
The Gentleman's Garden, Allen & Unwin (Crows Nest, New South Wales, Australia), 2002.
(And illustrator) Daryl's Dinner, Puffin (Camberwell, Victoria, Australia), 2002.
Eglantine: A Ghost Story, Allen & Unwin (Crows Nest, New South Wales, Australia), 2002.
Eloise: A Ghost Story, Allen & Unwin (Crows Nest, New South Wales, Australia), 2003.
Eustace: A Ghost Story, Allen & Unwin (Crows Nest, New South Wales, Australia), 2003.
Elysium: A Ghost Story, Allen & Unwin (Crows Nest, New South Wales, Australia), 2004.
The Road, Allen & Unwin (Crows Nest, New South Wales, Australia), 2004.
Spinning Around (adult novel), Allen & Unwin (Crows Nest, New South Wales, Australia), 2004.
Evil Genius, Allen & Unwin (Crows Nest, New South Wales, Australia), 2005.
Jinks' novels have been translated into German.
Australian author Catherine Jinks is best known for her "Pagan" series, which draws readers into the medieval world. The series, which includes the books Pagan's Crusade, Pagan in Exile, Pagan's Vows, and Pagan's Scribe, grew out of Jinks' interest in medieval history and focus on sixteen-year-old Christian Arab Pagan Kidrouk, who works as a squire for Templar Knight Lord Roland Roucy de Bram during the Crusades. During a tour of Jerusalem and then back through Europe during a period of religious unrest, the "Pagan" books combine Jinks' wide-ranging knowledge of the medieval period with her engaging writing style and quirky sense of humor. Other books that draw readers into the medieval past include the murder mystery The Inquisitor, while Jinks returns to the present for several picture books and self-illustrated middle-grade novels, novels for adults, and the novels comprising her popular "Ghost Story" series.
Jinks was born in Australia in 1963 and grew up amid a book-loving family in Papua New Guinea. An avid writer since childhood, she once recalled to SATA: "I've always wanted to produce books, and sent my first 'novel' off to a publisher when I was twelve." The novel's title was I Want to Be a Jungle Girl; due to the lack of foresight of the receiving publisher, it was never printed. After moving to Australia and graduating from the University of Sydney with a degree in medieval history, she married and relocated with her Canadian husband to Nova Scotia from 1993 to 1994, before returning to Australia with her family.
Jinks's first book for young adults, This Way Out, was published in 1991, after its author had spent several years working as a journalist. This novel is a contemporary story that focuses on a fifteen-year-old girl's dissatisfaction with her life and her search for a job that will pay for the photographs she hopes will begin her modeling career. "This Way Out reveals the author's awareness of some of the frustrations and longings of youth," remarked Cathryn Crowe in Magpies.
For her second book, Jinks introduces her twelfth-century ragamuffin character, Pagan, as he attempts to rise above a childhood on the streets of Jerusalem by finding a place with the Knights Templar. The novel, which takes place in 1187, focuses on the relationship between the streetwise Pagan and Templar Knight Lord Roland, who as a member of the order charged with protecting travelers, is the epitome of upper-class strength and valor. Touring the Middle East to advance the cause of Christianity, the pair are forced to enter battle to defend the city of Jerusalem and the Christian pilgrims visiting the Holy City from the Muslim warlord Saladin, who is attempting to recapture the city for Islam. "The aristocratic Templar and his scruffy squire make an unlikely partnership and it is a measure of the success of Ms. Jinks' story that we accept the mutual respect that grows up between the partners under the stress of violent action," continued Marcus Crouch in Junior Bookshelf.
Pagan's Crusade was described as "a curious, and curiously fascinating, novel" by Marcus Crouch in his review for Junior Bookshelf. Critics have noted the author's unusual choice of modern vernacular speech for her medieval characters, a choice that yields "a style which is elliptical and abrupt and, at times, wildly funny," according to a reviewer for Magpies. Praising Jinks' characters as "lively and engaging," Horn Book contributor Anita L. Burkam added that the irreverent squire's "sarcastic first-person narration, while faithful to the details of medieval life, contains more than a touch of irony." Comparing Jinks' humor to that of British comedy troupe Monty Python, a Publishers Weekly reviewer wrote that the "alternately hilarious, often poignant novel … turns medieval history into fodder for both high comedy and allegory." Also praising Pagan's Crusade, a Kirkus Reviews critic maintained that the book's "orphan's-eye view" helps readers visualize "the overripe streets of 12th-century Jerusalem" and also "introduces a character as lovable, stubbornly loyal, and smart-mouthed as any Disney film sidekick."
In the first sequel to Pagan's Crusade, Pagan in Exile, Lord Roland takes Pagan back to his estate in Languedoc, France, where the knight becomes involved in the domestic wars among the twelfth-century landed aristocracy while trying to summon others to help the Order retake Jerusalem. Like Jinks' first volume, Pagan in Exile was praised for its young protagonist's humorous first-person narration, although its plot contains a darker focus due to its depiction of the brutality and squalor of medieval life. Noting that the author successfully brings to life an epoch "that was particularly dark and dirty," Booklist contributor Ilene Cooper added that followers of the "Pagan" series would likely "find other books set in the Middle Ages pallid" by comparison.
Other books in the "Pagan" series include Pagan's Vows and Pagan's Scribe. Pagan's Vows finds Pagan and Lord Roland serving as novices at the Abbey of Saint Martin
as a way of avoiding the brutality of medieval French society. While Roland quickly accepts the way of life at the Benedictine monastery, Pagan sees the dishonesty and hypocrisy running rampant in this house of God. Rejecting the blind obedience demanded of him and the discomfort, he is determined to unveil the corruption in the monastic hierarchy, even if it angers Lord Roland. Jinks concludes her series with Pagan's Scribe, in which Isadore recounts Pagan's rise to become an archdeacon of the Catholic Church in France. Pagan's Vows won the Australian Children's Book of the Year Award for the older readers category from the Children's Book Council of Australia, one of several awards accorded the series. In her acceptance speech published in Reading Time, Jinks noted that, "In a funny sort of way I see the award as more of a tribute to Pagan than to me." "He's been through a lot," she added of her popular fictional character, "yet he's kept his humour and his courage and his loving heart."
Like the "Pagan" books, The Inquisitor is another novel by Jinks that has found its way into the hands of U.S. readers. Taking place in fourteenth-century France during the Inquisition, the novel focuses on the efforts of Inquisitor Father Bernard Peyre to track down the person who murdered and dismembered the corpse of the father's supervisor, Father Augustin. As his search uncovers corruption in the church hierarchy, Bernard finds his reputation sullied—and his life threatened—by charges of heresy in what Booklist reviewer Carrie Bissey dubbed a "smart page-turner that paints a convincing portrait of the struggle to live in the shadow of a … [corrupt] institution." Citing Bernard as a "sympathetic and engaging narrator," a Publishers Weekly reviewer also praised Jinks for her creation of a "gripping escape sequence" to crown the novel's plot.
A prolific writer at home in a variety of genres, Jinks continues to author stand-alone titles for children of several ages, and has also embarked on a second series with Eglantine: A Ghost Story. As the first of the "Ghost Story" books, Eglantine introduces Allie Gebhardt, junior ghost hunter. In this book, as well as its sequels Eustace, Eloise, and Elysium, Allie gradually gains the tools of the ghost-hunting trade—seances, dealing with emanations, and how to put a spirit to rest—as various unearthly spectres cross her path. "I feel shocking if I'm not working on a book and have no problem applying myself to their creation—no writer's block for me. I love creating stories; if I didn't, I wouldn't be doing it. It's the best job in the world (I just wish it paid more!)."
Biographical and Critical Sources
Booklist, October 1, 2002, Carrie Bissey, review of The Inquisitor, p. 304; January 1, 2004, Ilene Cooper, review of Pagan in Exile, p. 844.
Horn Book, July, 1993, Karen Jameyson, review of Pagan's Crusade, p. 498; September-October, 2003, Anita L. Burkam, review of Pagan's Crusade, p. 611; May-June, 2004, Anita L. Burkam, review of Pagan in Exile, p. 328.
Junior Bookshelf, December, 1993, Marcus Crouch, review of Pagan's Crusade, pp. 246-247.
Kirkus Reviews, September 15, 2002, review of The Inquisitor, p. 1355; October 14, 2003, review of Pagan's Crusade, p. 1272; December 15, 2003, review of Pagan in Exile, p. 1450.
Kliatt, January, 2004, Paula Rohrlick, review of Pagan's Crusade and Pagan in Exile, p. 8.
Magpies, November, 1992, review of Pagan's Crusade, p. 14; March, 1993, Cathryn Crowe, review of This Way Out, p. 32; May, 1993, Joan Zahnleiter, review of Pagan's Crusade, p. 24; July, 1995, review of Pagan in Exile, p. 24.
Publishers Weekly, September 30, 2002, review of The Inquisitor, p. 53; November 10, 2003, review of Pagan's Crusade, p. 63.
Reading Time, November, 1996, Catherine Jinks, acceptance speech for Australian Children's Book of the Year Award, pp. 7-8.
School Library Journal, December, 2003, Douglas P. Davey, review of Pagan's Crusade, p. 153.
Allen & Unwin Web site, http://www.allenandunwin.com/ (October 20, 2004), "Catherine Jinks."
Aussie Reviews Online, http://www.aussiereviews.com/ (October 24, 2004), review of Eglantine: A Ghost Story.
January Online, http://www.januarymagazine.com/ (October, 2003), Sue Bursztynski, review of Eloise: A Ghost Story.
Lateral Learning Speakers' Agency Web site, http://www.laterallearning.com/ (October 21, 2004), "Catherine Jinks."
Penguin Books Web site, http://www.penguin.com.au/ (June 20, 2001), "Catherine Jinks."*